How can we transform and heal the fear of death? The Death Makes Life Possible book (release date May 1, 2015) delves deeply into this inquiry. The following book excerpt offers a physician’s insight when answering this question. To order the book, follow this link.
For physician Gerald Jampolsky, a key to healing our fear of death is love and caring. Loneliness and social isolation can lead to earlier deaths, and holding on to old emotional baggage may lead to suffering. Jampolsky offers Attitudinal Healing, which he explains is “a cross-cultural method of healing that helps remove self-imposed blocks such as judgment, blame, shame and self-condemnation that are in the way of experiencing lasting love, peace, and happiness.
People who have life-threatening illness may be panicky and afraid of dying. This suffering can be transformed, says Jampolsky, as these people participate in a loving community that fosters love and forgiveness:
They’re in a group of similar people where they’re giving help as well as receiving it, and finding out “the more I give my love, the more I’m able to stay in the present.”
They’re getting out of the old paradigm that the past is going to predict the future. They’re learning to live in the moment. They’re learning to forgive, because when we don’t forgive, it creates toxins in our bodies that causes us to hurt ourselves. So we hold onto anger around someone else, and often times even in the dying process medications like morphine may not be useful because the pain is still there. But if [they] open up the possibility of looking at some places where they haven’t forgiven themselves or others, all of the sudden the medicine starts to work. . . .
The purpose of our group is to practice forgiveness, not making judgments, and giving. As we give, we receive. The benefits come from really staying in the present, not asking questions that will bring about fear about what’s going to happen tomorrow, or what happens when the doctor finds my x-ray has gotten worse. Instead, [we focus on] . . . realizing that when you’re in a hospital bed and people are coming to see you, a lot of them are afraid and fearful of saying the wrong thing.
A lot of people may not be coming around to see you, and you wonder if you’re being rejected, when really they are fearful. Rather than getting upset and angry that old friends aren’t coming to see you, you send them love and begin to feel a peace and a joining, not a separation. We learn that the purpose of relationships is joining, not separation. So it’s a whole new way of living life. “